**The third in my little series on learning to live with M together. I will write these as the thoughts cross my mind**
For as much time as M and I spent together before we moved in together, what I am amazed at is the things that I learn and understand more about M just by listening.
Listening as he’s on the phone with his boss about a patient, or during a phone call with a nursing home about a page, or even to his parents chatting about the day’s events.
Listening as he mutters something about a work frustration, or stress over the next deliverable for his project.
All things I’ve of course listened to or talked to him about previously, but something about the day in and day out of it that has given me a new understanding and appreciation for M as a person. His character, his habits, his drive.
What I appreciate and learn most about listening and learning about the things that weigh on his mind is figuring out how to apply what I am hearing to getting him to open up about it, or just proactively talking about whatever it is that I can tell is on his mind.
And you know what? It’s really working! I feel as though these conversations are bringing us closer together in a way that I wasn’t expecting as a result of living together. And I appreciate that and value that so incredibly much.
For example, the other night, M was talking about some frustrating behaviors at work, where there aren’t a lot of standard processes for certain tasks as the day nears the end. Such as returning phone calls to patients. Which usually falls to him, but can sometimes be handled by his medical assistants. When he was put into a tough spot with a patient that didn’t get a call back in a timely manner (since he was back to back with patients all day), I suggested maybe he should proactively put a process in place (given he does have some seniority amongst his peers) and to share his idea with his boss (his review is coming up!) and move forward with it. Show the leadership he has in him. Demonstrate authority that he is capable of. Move beyond being the ‘nice guy’ all the time (which isn’t a bad thing, but when you start getting walked on, it is) mode and move into the leadership role his boss is cultivating for him.
It was such a good conversation between us and it really got us into quite a dialogue on it that was so valuable to the both of us. At the end of the conversation, he gave me a hug and told me how much he valued these conversations and how much he loved that we could connect on this level. And for me? That meant the world, because we are cultivating such a deep relationship and at its core, a friendship too. And, he is opening up…something that was such a struggle for me to accept, because he wouldn’t open up and just felt that he shouldn’t cast his worries on me (which I never saw it that way, but he felt very strongly about).
It’s just amazing at what small tweaks and a mindset change can do to change behaviors, isn’t it? My learning the ability to allow him to open up at his own pace and he actually starting to well, open up and talk through things, rather than let them fester in his brain. I haven’t seen that ‘million miles away” look in his face in a long time. And that makes my heart happy.